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What we learned today: the actual Wild Things were based on Maurice Sendak’s terrifying-but-loving relatives. We all have Wild Things!
This morning, Newsweek.com posted the magazine version of our exclusive conversation with ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ creators Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, which you can read here. We think it’s the definitive WtWTA interview.
But there’s A LOT more stuff that we couldn’t squeeze into print. Here’s a little taste:
What was it like to see the Wild Things embodied onscreen with the voices of James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker? Did it clash with the image of them you’d kept with you all these years?
Sendak: Yes, but at the same time, I fell in love with the new versions. They were gentler, they were kinder. Underneath, of course, they were capable of the same terrible things. One of them puts Max in her mouth. There always is the possibility that something might go wrong, and you’ll get eaten. And you don’t know what it is that might go wrong. What you’ll say or what you’ll do that will provoke a Wild Thing to eat you. I love watching animal movies on television. One of the only things I like. And they always say, don’t do this and don’t do that, don’t run away and don’t turn your back and don’t lie flat. I love that. It’s from my childhood. How do you prevent dying? How do you prevent being eaten or mauled by a monster? I still worry about it.
Jonze: When we went to shoot the movie, we actually watched nature documentaries, and wanted to feel like we were watching animals-
Jonze: -and that’s part of the reason we shot it out on location. We wanted it to be not on soundstages and not with greenscreen, but in real places. The camera doesn’t know where these creatures are going to go. What’s motivating them is unpredictable, unknowable, and the cameraman is just there, trying to document these wild animals, from the point of view of Max, who knows just as little as we do of what they’re going to do.
Sendak: Yes, he doesn’t know what’s to come next. I mean, that’s gotta be scary for a kid, but it’s also gotta be what a kid likes most. It’s that enticement of what might or might not happen.
NEWSWEEK: What do you say to parents who think the ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ film may be too scary?
Maurice Sendak: I would tell them to go to hell.
(This and more here)
Spike Jonze, 29, sits on a Soho stoop in the early fall sunshine, looking unabashedly youthful in a slouchy skateboard T shirt and khaki cargo pants. His short, sandy hair is pushed around his head at conflicting angles; his eyes are guileless blue. Now that he’s making the move from ultracool video and TV commercial director to big-screen buzz guy, Jonze is ostensibly here to talk about two big fall projects: his forthcoming directorial debut, “Being John Malkovich,” and his first substantial acting role, in the recent hit “Three Kings.” Jonze’s interview approach seems an adaptation of the standard adolescent way of dealing with a prying parent. He doesn’t say much, which only makes you wonder what kind of wildly eccentric thoughts and ideas he’s hiding.(Jonze spoke to NEWSWEEK, exactly 10 years ago)
Dave, do you remember Where the Wild Things Are from your childhood?(From our exclusive roundtable interview with the creators of the upcoming film, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’)
Eggers: I do. I remember when I was really little, I was scared of everything—Willy Wonka scared me to death, and the Oompa-Loompa people scared me to death. When I was 3 and 4, I would leave the room and hide under the couch when those movies came on. My first experience with Where the Wild Things Are—I couldn’t read it. And my mother thought I would love it, because I was that barbaric kid that Maurice was talking about—really hyper and wild. But it scared me, mainly because of the nuances of the monsters. It just wasn’t clear if they were good or bad, if they were going to eat Max or not.
I had the honor of interviewing Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers yesterday at Mr. Sendak’s house in Connecticut. Watch this space and Newsweek.com for more on Where the Wild Things Are, coming soon…
Mark your calendars. This should be good.